Fortune Favours the Bold
Welcome to my newest story!
This story will jump back and forth between two different times- the past, starting at late 1999, when Bella and Edward were 18, and 2012, when they are 30/31. I hope that it won't be too confusing.
This story will be angsty in places, and some of the plot direction may feel familiar, because this story is inspired by one of my favourite novels, Jane Austen's Persuasion. Those of you that aren't familiar with it won't miss out by not knowing the story because it's not a crossover.
The story is going to be set mainly in the English county of Warwickshire and Britain's second city, Birmingham, with occasional scenes in London and New York.
I don't have a beta for this story, but I try very hard to make sure that everything written is correct in terms of grammar and syntax. If I've made any glaringly obvious mistakes, please let me know.
I hope you enjoy this story. I would love to hear your opinions on its progression- reviews are brilliant to receive! I'm also on Facebook as Capri Capra, so if you'd like to discuss things there, please come find me!
Lastly, the disclaimer!
I do not own Twilight or any of the wonderful characters that Stephenie Meyer created to bewitch us all. I also do not own Jane Austen's Persuasion. I am merely Jane's humble admirer, and in borrowing plot points from her final published work, I mean only to honour her memory. This story is rated M for language and lemons. Please do not read if you're offended by either of these.
Thank you muchly!
Bella Swan turned over in bed and groaned softly at the thought of facing the bitterly cold Monday morning. Coffee. I would sell my soul for good coffee right now.
She was tempted to go back to sleep, but she could hear movement upstairs. Bella knew that if she didn't get out of bed, she'd waste the day lounging, and she really needed to write today. She had been asked to write an article for a local magazine on ancient oak trees in rural Warwickshire, previously known as The Forest of Arden in Shakespeare's day. It wasn't particularly interesting but she couldn't afford to turn down work.
Bella took a deep breath, swung herself out of bed and grabbed the old tartan blanket that topped her duvet and wrapped herself in it, jumping up and down to get the blood flowing to her toes, which were freezing despite the thick socks she had worn to bed.
Before she climbed the stairs from her basement bedsit up to the kitchen of the small terraced house in Stratford-upon-Avon she shared with her sister, niece and nephew, she glanced out of her tiny window. It was still dark outside, despite it being 7.15am, and it was lightly snowing. Bella groaned again. She hated snow, slush, cold and wet. Grumbling under her breath, she trudged up the stairs to the kitchen.
"Auntie Bella! You're up!" George, her seven year-old nephew cried, getting up from his seat at the breakfast table to hug her around the waist. "We were going to come down with coffee for you, but we didn't want make it wrong, or to spill it!"
"How sweet!" Bella ruffled his soft honey-blond mop and kissed his forehead. "But very sensible. Save the carrying of hot liquids until you're older, OK? I don't want you two to burn your hands!"
She looked over at Gemma, George's twin sister, who looked up from her dog-eared copy of Dick King-Smith's The Sheep-Pig and smiled.
"We did put the kettle on, though, Auntie Bella, so you can make coffee the way you like it."
"Thanks, Gem." Bella got out the coffee, wishing yet again that they could afford proper, freshly ground coffee rather than the pathetic instant stuff. Perhaps Tyler will come through for me sometime soon.
Tyler Crowley, her literary agent, had had her manuscript for three months now, but whenever she asked him about it, he brushed her off, telling her that he was still trying to get her 'out there', whatever that meant. He was the only agent who would take her on, however, and beggars couldn't be choosers.
"Where's your mother this morning?" Bella asked of her sister Rosalie, once she had had her first gulp of terrible but fully loaded instant coffee.
"Mummy's finishing getting ready. She got a job for this week." George answered, just as the sound of Rosalie's heels could be heard coming down the narrow staircase. "But she's not very happy about it!"
Bella saw for herself a moment later. Her beautiful older sister was dressed impeccably as usual, in a pair of black pinstripe trousers, grey shirt and dusky pink ballet cardigan, with a pair of mid-heeled plain black patent Mary Janes on her feet. The clothes and shoes were designer, but from several seasons ago. Rosalie had very classic taste and maintained her wardrobe well, so had not needed to spend much money replacing clothes (which was a good thing as there were some months where she and Bella could barely afford shampoo). Her long honey-blonde hair was tied into a neat French twist, and her make-up discreet and flattering, but it failed to hide the tiredness and the stress in Rosalie's hazel eyes.
"Hey Rosie. Georgie says you're working this week." The slight scowl on Rosalie's face grew bigger. Bella made her sister a very strong coffee.
"Yes. I've got to trek all the way into central Birmingham to a marketing firm full of sleazebags in the snow because their receptionist is off sick." She shuddered slightly. "But I can't say no this month. Not with having to pay off Christmas. Plus both these two need new shoes. Morning babies!"
Rosalie bent down to sweep her son and daughter into a big hug. As she watched her Bella's heart broke for her older sister. She hated temping, and some of the places her agency sent her treated her like shit, but the agency gave her flexibility to work around the children and paid her a retainer, so there was always a little money coming in. One of these days, Royce King, someone's going to destroy you the way you destroyed the happiness of my family.
"Do you want a lift to the station? I can drop you and take the twins to school."
"No need. Dad's coming round soon. He's working in Birmingham all week so he's going to drive me in, and we'll drop the kids off on the way." Rosalie replied, accepting the coffee from Bella. She wrinkled her pretty nose as she took a sip. "One of these days, Bellsie, I swear, we're going to have a proper Italian espresso machine that churns out proper caffe instead of this crap." Rosalie, like Bella, mourned the sacrifice of proper coffee, but they had agreed that it was a luxury they could not afford.
"I know, Sis."
"So, what time did you get in last night? You look wrecked."
"I got in at 1am. We had some trouble getting rid of the last drinkers at kicking-out time and the bar was a complete state."
"Do you ever think about working somewhere a bit more, I don't know... upmarket?" Rosalie suggested, not for the first time. "You might as well call that place 'The Wolfpack.' That pub is a complete dive. With your looks and your perky... assets," Rosalie raised her eyebrows and glanced at Bella's chest "you could get a bar job at one of the hotel bars or something."
"Rosie, no hotel bar would let me write in between serving, or let me take off at a moment's notice to do an article, or let me keep my own tips. Those guys who drink at The Stag might be Neanderthals, but they're predictable Neanderthals, predictable, generous Neanderthals. And I know how to bat back the innuendos whilst still seeming cute and tip-worthy. I'd rather be dealing with them than slimy, smarmy businessmen with a sense of entitlement."
Rosalie appraised Bella in her thick navy pyjamas, still wrapped in the tartan blanket. Although it was clear from their similar heart-shaped faces and mannerisms that they were sisters, Rosalie had always been described as beautiful, tall, blonde and striking, while Bella was girl-next-door pretty. She had thick dark brown hair and chocolate brown eyes with a wide smile, and under the shapeless clothes she usually wore, Bella possessed a petite, curvaceous body, still perky and tight, words Rosalie would not use to describe her own anymore, having given birth to two children. It didn't surprise her that the thugs that frequented The Stag gave her money, hoping to get into her pants. But Rosalie knew that no man would ever get in there. Bella's heart still belonged to her first love. Her first, lost love. The one that got away.
Rosalie swallowed the feelings of guilt and shame that overcame her whenever she thought of the sacrifices Bella had made for their family. Her younger sister's independence was curbed when she moved into Rosalie's house to help raise Gemma and George after Rose's asshole ex-husband Royce King ran off with all the Swan family money, leaving her a single mother. Bella's hopes of doing a prestigious creative writing course and being a writer full-time were eschewed in favour of getting a steady job and contributing to the now meagre household income.
Most of all, Rosalie reflected, Bella's first sacrifice had been the biggest. For the reputation of the Swan family, after much persuasion, Bella had sacrificed her heart. But even nearly twelve years later, at the age of thirty, it still belonged to her first love, Edward. Bella hadn't so much as looked at another man since Rosalie, her mother Renee and her father Charlie, stopped her from travelling around the world with him and they had broken up.
"...If you run away with him, Bella, it will destroy the respectability of the Swans. What if it doesn't work? How can you be so sure he's the love of your life? What are you going to do for money? You'd really sacrifice our reputation, Dad's standing in this community, make us the source of gossip for years to come, to run away with a scruffy boho musician who can't even afford a haircut?..."
Instead, Bella went to university at prestigious Durham, Charlie's alma mater, to read English, coming out with a distinction. She went out with the sons of Charlie's work colleagues and with Royce's friends, always under duress. She never argued with Renee when she made her to the salon or shopping at Selfridges in Birmingham, even though she hated it. Bella played the dutiful daughter, and the Swan family tried to ignore the lack of light and sparkle in Bella's big brown eyes.
"Hello?" Charlie chose that moment to come in, breaking Rosalie from her guilt-trip. He was wearing one of his many old but well cared-for tailored suits, a dark grey one, but both sisters thought that it looked a little big on him, like he'd lost a little weight. He was nearly fifty-seven, but sometimes, with the consequences of his bad decisions weighing upon him, he felt much, much older.
"Hi Dad. How are things?"
"Hello Grandpa!" The twins surrounded him and he hugged them to his sides.
"How are my munchkins today? Looking forward to school?" He asked warmly.
"Yep! It's games day! I'm gonna play football in the snow!" George cried, demonstrating a side-kick and nearly taking out Charlie's shin in the process.
"Great stuff, Georgie! And what about you, princess?" Charlie turned to his quieter grandchild.
"I don't like football." Gemma murmured. "Or snow. But we're starting a new book in English. That should be good."
"I don't think there's a single book you've read that you didn't like, Gemma." Charlie laughed. Gemma softly giggled her agreement, and doing so, reminded her grandfather of her aunt, Bella. Gemma and Bella were similar in character, interests and looks. If Gemma's hair were brown instead of honey-blonde, she would have looked exactly like Bella did at age seven.
"Dad, have you had breakfast yet? Do you have time for some toast?" Bella asked, knowing her father probably hadn't bothered to feed himself this morning and would otherwise probably end up succumbing to an unhealthy bacon and egg sandwich later in the morning.
"That'd be great, Bells." He sat down at the breakfast table. "Actually, I do need to talk to you about something." He glanced at Rosalie and then the twins, indicating that it was a grown-up conversation.
"Gemma, George, have you two brushed your teeth yet?" Rosalie asked. Both shook their heads. "Up you go to the bathroom. I want to see and hear squeaky-clean teeth, OK? And put your outdoor things on too. Wrap up warm, babies."
"OK, Mummy." They thundered up the stairs.
"I thank my lucky stars that those two are such little angels. If they'd been terrors, on top of everything else..." Rosalie began, but decided she didn't want to dwell on Royce or the Swan Family Fuck-Ups at that time. "...anyway, what's up, Dad?"
"Well..." Charlie paused whilst Bella placed tea and toast in front of him. "The thing is, girls..."
"Dad! Out with it!" Rosalie cried impatiently.
"Daddy?" Bella coaxed him gently.
"Riverview Place has finally been sold." He said eventually, before gulping at his tea.
"Oh." Rosalie replied, turning to Bella, who swallowed hard, trying to contain the rising emotions within her. It's finally gone. My childhood home. "Bella?"
"I'm OK." She whispered, but a tear slipped from her eyes. She wiped it away hastily before looking at her concerned father.
"I'm sorry Bells."
"No, it's fine. We had to do it. We needed to sell it." Bella replied gently, although she wanted to scream out loud at the unfairness of it all. "Were you happy with the price? Who are the buyers?"
"They're paying the listed price. They didn't even try to bargain it down. The couple buying the house are doctors and have just moved into the area after several years abroad. The wife apparently fell in love with it even before she saw that it was on the river. Once she saw the water, the agent said that she turned to her husband and before she'd even opened her mouth, he had offered the full amount."
"So does that get us out of trouble?" Rosalie asked, daring to hope that they might finally be free of debt for the first time in six years, since Royce screwed them over.
"Mostly. It means that I can pay off last year's tax bill from the Inland Revenue and all the loans, but after I pay off the percentage that's owed to your mother, it doesn't leave me with enough to pay the new tax bill that we're going to be hit with this April and buy myself somewhere to live."
"What? Why do you have to pay her anything?" Rosalie exclaimed, her temper flaring. "She left us for that fucker when you needed her the most, that rich fucker..."
"She's entitled to it, tiger." Charlie replied softly. "We bought that house together."
"You're too good to her. She breaks your heart in your darkest hour, runs off with your protégé, and you still want to protect her."
"Rosalie, I know it's hard for you to understand. Both our spouses hurt us so much, but your love for Royce died with his betrayal. Mine didn't. I don't think it ever will."
Rosalie and Charlie glanced at Bella, whose tears were now flowing freely.
"I'm OK. I'm glad that the people buying Riverview Place seem like they will appreciate it and treat it right." She replied once her sobs settled. "But where are you going to live? You're not going to keep living on The Black Swan, are you?" Bella added, referring to Charlie's beloved black narrow-boat, currently moored on the river outside Riverview Place. He had been living on it for a year, ever since he realised that he could no longer afford to run the large house, which had been let to tenants until the previous month.
"Well, girls, that's the other part of this saga." Charlie took out his handkerchief, leaned across the table and wiped away Bella's tears. "You ok for me to continue, my little lamb?"
Bella smiled at Charlie's use of his nickname for her. He always called fiery Rosalie his tiger, and quiet Bella his little lamb. There had been only one time in her life that anyone could remember when she'd spoken back to him and her mother Renee.
"Yes, Dad. Please."
"I'm leaving my job as Chief Crown Prosecutor." Bella and Rosalie gasped. Charlie had held the prestigious role for fifteen years. He was in charge of the region's public prosecutions and was a very well respected criminal lawyer.
"Several reasons, money being the final one. My role's become too managerial. It's been six months since I actually tried a case. I spend more time in the car than anywhere else, travelling across the region. The government is freezing salaries and stopping bonuses because of the recession and because of that, the next tax bill will put me right back into debt again. "
"So, what's next?"
"I've been offered and have accepted a post with a private firm of defence lawyers in Birmingham. I've already handed in my notice and this week, we're recruiting my replacement. I'm going to stay in post until he or she is trained up and then transition to my new job. It pays double what I earn now, girls."
"And where will you live?"
"The job comes with a golden hello, which is more than enough for me to rent an apartment in the city centre and moorings for The Black Swan here in Stratford." Charlie replied.
"You're going to live in one of those high-rise apartments? Dad, are you sure? Won't you hate the noise, the hustle and bustle...?" Bella asked. Charlie shrugged.
"It's the most convenient choice. I'll be able to walk to work, and on the weekends, I can come back to Stratford and stay on the boat." Charlie watched his daughters watching him sceptically. "It's better than rattling around in a house by myself. I've hated being in Riverview Place alone. I won't be working eighty hours a week unless I want to and because defence work pays so much better, with the extra income, I'll have us debt free by this time next year." He added.
Bella, despite being full of sorrow and loss, got up and wrapped her arms around her father's neck from behind.
"It'll be fine. You'll get used to the city, and we'll help you decorate your new place. And you'll be able to spend more time sailing and with Gemma and George." She told him, looking at her sister to add her support too. Bella knew that Charlie wouldn't have made such big decisions without agonising it for eons.
"Yeah, Dad. It'll be ace." Rosalie echoed, trying to sound enthusiastic.
"I'm hoping that, in time, I can help you two out of this dump and into a house that suits you better."
"We'll see, Dad."
Rosalie and Bella each possessed a very strong independent streak. Despite their hardships, neither of them wanted to be financially reliant on their father at the ages of thirty-three and thirty respectively. If Charlie got to a point where he had plenty of disposable income going spare, which certainly had not been the case since Royce ran off and their mother Renee left, the sisters agreed that they wanted him to put it into trust for the twins and any future grandchildren, to replace the money Royce had stolen. They wanted to get themselves out of the dark little house that they begrudgingly called home.
"OK, we'd better get going, right?" Rosalie stood up quickly and walked to the foot of the stairs. "Gemma? George? Let's go, babies!"
Whilst the twins thundered back down the stairs, Bella retrieved from the fridge the lunchboxes she'd prepared the day before and shoved them into the kids' bags, wrapped up a banana and a slice of fruit cake for Rosalie to have later (Rosalie could never face eating so early in the morning so had breakfast at 10am) and kissed them all goodbye as they headed out the door.
After she watched her family leave, she went back down to her basement hidey-hole and crawled back into bed. She reached under it and retrieved a plain white shoebox, tied with a light blue ribbon. She carefully pulled the ribbon open and lifted the lid off. Her heart leapt a little as she took in the treasure inside. Thousands of photographs, old concert tickets, train tickets and other little mementoes, all memories of the best eleven and a half months of her life. She sifted through them until she found the one she wanted.
Me in Edward's arms, sitting on the bench by the water at Riverview Place, the sun shining, my beautiful house in the background. We were so happy. The two of us so perfectly aligned. Life was perfect. Why did the bubble have to burst?
I've posted the second chapter as well, so if you're liking it so far, please read on!